Korea

Organized Panel Session

1 - The Agency of Socialist Intellectuals in the Academy of Sciences of the DPRK, 1952-1964

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Madison A, Mezzanine Level

This paper explores the agency of North Korean intellectuals in shaping socialist socio-cultural policies during the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, by centering on the structure of Academy of Sciences that arose based on the Soviet model in socialist countries, I focus on how socialist intellectuals were able to serve as the agents of cultural productions and policies. At the same time, I explore how these intellectuals were incorporated into state-sanctioned institutions as bureaucrats supporting the socialist system. Despite similarities amongst intellectuals across socialist countries, different from those intellectuals who became the prime agents for the 1989 transformation of Eastern European society, North Korean intellectuals have rarely played their role as social critics since the late 1960s. I argue that the different historical trajectories and intellectual traditions prior to the establishment of these socialist countries continued to impact the construction of their subjectivity as intellectuals. Rather than characterizing North Korean intellectuals as blind supporters of the North Korean regime, this study traces the formation of North Korean intellectuals’ role and identity within the global socialist socio-political structure. Thus, through a critical reflection of the role and identity of socialist intellectuals, this study aims to reassess a historical analysis for North Korean intellectuals’ lack of agency in bringing about political transformation and reform, while also entertaining the possibility in them providing successful socialist economic reform policies in the present time.

Elli Kim

University of Southern California, California

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1 - The Agency of Socialist Intellectuals in the Academy of Sciences of the DPRK, 1952-1964



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